Trial for South Carolina shooter delayed

Jury selection for the trial of Dylan Storm Roof, charged with killing nine black church members in the summer of 2015, was to be held on November 7.

The judge has delayed the selection to see if Roof is competent to stand trial. If he is found competent, jury selection will be held November 21.

Roof faces 33 federal charges.

Becky Ramirez, student president of MOSAIC, said she remembered the shooting as an “exceptionally tragic time.”

She said that attacks and acts of vandalism on black churches are not uncommon and there is an “aggression towards black churches in general.”

According to the Huffington Post, prior to the Charleston attack there had been at least 90 other attacks on black churches since 1956.  These attacks include bombings, arson, shootings and vandalism.

Another reports said that there were 1,420 attacks in the 1980s, according to the Huffington Post.

Of the 90 attacks that the Huffington Post based their article on, over 30 took place in the 1990s. Most of those occurred over an 18-month period between 1995 and 1996 that led to the Church Arson Act being passed into law.

In an article in the Washington Post shortly after the shooting, the authors claim that black churches have been a target for so long “because they have always remained a symbol of hope in the darkness of American racism and a source of leadership, political and religious, in the African American community.”

Alicia Watt, a sophomore early education major, said to respond to these situations, “The church needs to not be afraid to talk about racism, privilege and oppression.”

“When members of their community (outside the church) are being targeted and oppressed, they need to be the first ones acting-providing comfort, showing empathy, educating others and standing up. The church also needs to listen. Instead of jumping to conclusions about why we are afraid, angry, or even secluded they need to simply sit down with us and listen. Finally, white Christians need to welcome us (whether in the congregation or outside the Church) into their homes. Uniting won’t happen if fellowship is not happening,” Watt said.

Ramirez said that even though there seems to be significant evidence, there is still a possibility that Roof could be found innocent. She mentioned the case of Eric Garner in New York in which there was video evidence, but no conviction took place.